Argosy University Blog

Saying Goodbye to Work Worries While on Vacation

Summer has just begun and that long-awaited vacation is on the horizon. Unfortunately, it can quickly pass you by and before you know it, that precious vacation time has been wasted due to inadequate trip planning or a basic inability to relax.

Twenty-three percent of Americans take no vacation time at all, according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research. With employees skipping out on vacation days every year, the bigger question remains as to why this continues to happen, and what happens when employees actually take that time off? More importantly, how can an individual enjoy a vacation without being completely disconnected from work?

First off, it's important to understand the value of taking time off work. "A well-placed vacation can help break the cycle of everyday workplace-related stress," says Dr. Joffrey Suprina, dean of the College of Counseling, Psychology and Social Sciences at Argosy University. "Chronic stress takes a toll on our body's health, disrupting its ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions and even avoid injury. When you're stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill. Your sleep will suffer and not only do you become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you'll make poor decisions. So vacations are important to our overall physical and mental health."

A new survey from Glassdoor found that 61 percent of employees admitted to doing some work while on vacation. In a connected world of smartphones, iPads and Wi-Fi, that might not seem like a big deal. It's easy to work remotely. However, many people aren't getting the most of their vacation. Checking an email can easily lead to jumping on a project, which has potential to take up hours of your valuable vacation time.

"Taking time off has a positive effect on employee happiness and productivity, however many people are simply afraid to walk away from their work even for a few days," says Dr. Carlos Tasso E. De Aquino, assistant dean of the Graduate School of Business and Management at Argosy University. "With globalization and increasing competition, the workforce feels threatened to lose their jobs to people anywhere in the world, so they develop this 'addiction' and never stop working," adds Aquino.

So before you leave the office for vacation, assign a person to help others regarding your normal responsibilities and let everybody clearly know who this person is - including them in an automatic email reply and voice mail.

"Consider a time blocking strategy, where you choose a small block of time to catch up on work. Let your coworkers know that this is the only time you'll be responding to emails, calls and other work needs. By doing this you'll be in control of your responsibilities, setting employee expectations, and alleviating some of the stress that comes from having to constantly check in," says Suprina.

Another good idea is to train your stand-in coworker well in advance. Consider having your employees partner up with somebody who understands their job. When their counterpart goes on vacation, only they can contact each other if something comes up. This means that all the attempts to access the vacationing employee have to go through their "gatekeeper" who can judge just how important it actually is to contact that employee.

Vacations give you a chance to unwind, enjoy life, and to keep your work-life balance from swinging too far toward work. They allow you to take a step back from your normal, stressful routine and enjoy a bit of rest and relaxation. So go ahead this summer and take a few days off. Just don't forget to bring a camera.

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Reduce Brain Drain In Your Kids Over The Summer

The second the school bell rings signaling that school’s out for summer, it seems that children immediately forget everything they’ve studied over the past nine months. When they return to school in the fall, playing catch up takes time.

Studies show that this brain drain can result in as much as a few months’ worth of learning lost over the summer. The achievement gap widens in the fall as students struggle to “relearn” what they knew the spring prior.

“Typically, teachers spend the first week to the first two months of the school year trying to bring student knowledge up to a specific level in order to advance their learning,” says Debra Hill, associate professor in the College of Education at Argosy University, Chicago and immediate past president of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. “This is found most commonly in math, where review can last through the first full semester in some grade levels.”

So when all your kids want is down time, how do you keep their minds tuned up?

While proactive summer learning can certainly improve a child’s retention rate, the way that they learn in the summer may be different from how they learn while in the classroom. “Learning is an ongoing, lifelong activity,” says Hill. “A mental break for your kids in the summer should occur not based on learning, but based on the activities students engage in related to learning. Summer should be about more reading for fun, exploration, communication and application of what they have learned.

“Since students do not often practice by doing or by teaching others, it would follow that the application of what they have learned in school through hands-on activities in the summer will assist in retention in the fall,” says Hill. “Hands-on experiences, conversations and physical activity will help kids continue to be mentally active.” Providing students with opportunities to participate in activities they consider fun will not lessen the learning.

“The more you can keep your students accessing previously learned knowledge in a new and practical way, the more it is likely to get implanted and permanently ingrained in their brains,” says Kevin Yeoman, an instructor in the Game Art & Design program at The Art Institute of Fort Worth.

Family meals, trips to the store, collecting shells on the beach, heading to sports camp and almost any other activity can have a learning component if parents engage in conversation with their kids about the activity. “Learning a new skill, or about a new place, or a different way of doing something, or meeting new people are ways of studying. There will not be a test, yet the new information contributes to the overall mental growth of the individual,” says Hill.

“Keep your students actively engaged in the world,” says Yeoman. “The more they can apply their book knowledge to new experiences and activities they enjoy, the more learning will take place.

“You don’t want to create a resistance to learning by forcing your child into the same types of activities they do during the year,” says Yeoman. “Instead, take the lessons they’ve learned in school and apply them to everyday situations. Whether it’s having your child map out the route to the grocery store or use basic geometry to create a sandcastle, you’re providing them the opportunity to apply their book knowledge in a new way.”

And that can even hold true with video games. “There are excellent technology tools such as video games and online projects that are educational and engaging,” says Hill. “The key is balance and not encouraging kids to focus most of their time on their electronic toys.

“Ask kids what they like and want to do,” suggests Hill. “As an adult, examine what learning can take place when your child gets to select the activities they participate in. Talk to your kids, ask questions, provide problems to be solved, give them opportunities to explore and model what it’s like to be a life-long learner.”

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Boarding Your Four-Legged Family Member

Boarding your four-legged family member can sometimes create more logistical issues than the rest of your trip. Thanks to Paula Lind, MAEd, CVT, Veterinary Technology Program Chair at Argosy University, Twin Cities, for her tips on what questions to ask and answer before you choose the right kennel for your pet.

• Know Before You Go. Make sure that you know who will be caring for your pet and how they will be doing so. From potty break basics and vaccination requirements to after hours care and facility safety, it’s important to know and be comfortable with the facility before you board your pet.

• Examine the Facility. Ask to tour the facility before you board your pet. Examine the size and condition of kennels and floors. Beyond these basics, things like music to calm pets, pheromone diffusers, visual barriers that keep pets from seeing each other and lights on timers can have a big impact on your pet’s stay.

• Reasonable Costs. Fees for boarding your pet can vary. In addition to basic charges for where they’ll be bunking for the duration, facilities can charge an additional amount for social and play time with other animals. Additional charges can be incurred if your pet needs medications.

• Warning Signs. While boarding facilities can vary in terms of how they handle and board animals, you should never tolerate things like hidden fees, use of bark collars on dogs, or physical punishment of animals in any form for any reason.

• Picking up your pet. When you pick up your pet from their boarding stay, be sure to check them for any signs of fear or anxiety. Look at their cleanliness and note any unpleasant odor or hair loss, especially around the face and muzzle. Also look for any injuries and limping in your pet.

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  • 2018

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